Being defined as “infertile” as a couple can place tremendous strain on the relationship. It is best to seek medical advice if you have been unable to conceive naturally after a year of trying. There are numerous factors that affect these outcomes, and your medical practitioner will be able to provide you with the best advice.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is one of the first assisted technologies typically recommended by doctors for infertility. It involves placing the sperm cells directly into the uterus using a catheter. It is most useful in cases of unexplained infertility, male factor infertility, ejaculation issues, and for single women or same-sex couples wishing to start a family.
If IUI is your chosen method of treatment, it is advisable to be emotionally, physically, and financially invested in the outcome, good or bad. Happily, it is a relatively non-invasive procedure that does not take too long – it has been compared to a Pap Smear Test. It is important to stay mentally fit, avoid negative thoughts, and stressful situations. Being healthy benefits all areas of our lives, so make sure you and your partner are getting the required nutrition for healthy bodies. Eat food rich in vitamin D and exercise. This procedure is relatively inexpensive but does usually involve at least 3 – 4 cycles. The woman’s hormones and blood work are monitored for a few days prior to the procedure to ensure she will be ovulating at the required time. Ultrasounds are used to confirm that her eggs have matured. The male partner may be advised to refrain from intercourse or masturbation for about 3 – 4 days prior to ensure maximum sperm count levels.
Middle Term: The Procedure Itself
There are two options available: medicated or natural IUI. With the medicated option, fertility drugs are administered to ensure that more than one follicle matures, improving the odds of becoming pregnant. If applicable, both partners will be called in for the procedure appointment. The man may be able to collect his sperm specimen at home just prior to the appointment. One hour before the procedure the woman will be asked to drink about a liter of water as a full bladder aids in guiding the angle of the catheter. The sperm is “washed” to ensure the healthiest cells are the ones to be utilized. These are then placed into a syringe, once consent forms have been completed.
Extra mucus is cleared from the cervix and the catheter is inserted, using an ultrasound screen as a guide. The point of the catheter is aimed towards the top of the uterus in the direction of the mature follicle. Once the sperm has been injected through the catheter the patient is advised to rest for 10 – 20 minutes. Thereafter, depending on your doctor’s advice, you can go back to work or take a few days to rest and avoid discomfort.
The Waiting Days
For a few days after the procedure, you will likely be advised to avoid heavy work, lifting, travel, and exposure to hazardous chemicals and radiation. You can also resume light exercise to increase the blood flow to your reproductive area. You will be advised on how often to visit your doctor for monitoring. Some side effects may be experienced. A feeling of fullness, spotting, and cramping are common, but not always experienced. Mild to moderate cramping post-procedure does not decrease your chances of pregnancy. Cramping after IUI, as explained by MCRM Fertility, can be caused by irritation to the uterus from the insertion of the catheter. Ovulation can also cause abdominal cramping, and any medication used to induce ovulation can worsen the pain or cramps. This does not affect your ability to become pregnant.
Now you and your partner can resume your normal life activities while waiting for results. Try to remain calm, positive, and enthusiastic. There are more options to try should the IUI not be effective on your first cycle. Have patience, do not be discouraged, and trust that your body is performing at its best for you.